Located three blocks from the State Capitol, in the heart
of Salem, Mission Mill Museum is part of Salems past.
Visitors to the 4 1/2 acre site will step back into the early
days of Salem and experience the diverse architecture, industry
and lifestyles of the pioneer settlers and the restored Thomas
Kay Woolen Mill, an important part of the community since
1889. The red brick building has been a familiar sight in
Salem since 1896, when English emigrant Thomas L. Kay built
it to replace the 1889 wooden structure that had been destroyed
The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill produced fine wool blankets and
fabrics for seventy years and was managed by four generations
of the Kay family. In years past, the Mill transformed raw
Willamette Valley wool into fabric and blankets which were
well known throughout the West. This is the only woolen mill
museum west of Missouri. The sound of the old water-powered
turbine still echoes on the grounds today, as it continues
to provide power. Driven by water power from the Salem millrace,
the Samson Leffel turbine and a system of pulleys and drive
shafts operated all the Mill machinery until the early 1940s.
The turbine still generates electricity for the site.
While the Mill provides an opportunity to explore turn-of-the-century
industrial technology, the historic houses of the Methodist
Mission help to interpret missionary family life of an earlier
period. In the early 1840s Jason Lee and the members of his
community were instrumental in developing the industry, government
and educational facilities that became the core of the Oregon
At any time of the year, a visit to Mission Mill Museum provides
a collection of sights, sounds and activities. The old-fashioned
herb garden, perennials and a rose garden remind us of the
daily lives of the Oregon pioneers. At night the grounds are
lighted by historic City of Salem street lamps.
Researched and written by Paul Porter and Susan Gibby